Research conducted prior to the Covid-19 pandemic indicates that there is an immediate need to move further and faster to reskill the country’s workforce.
The UK is faced with a stark choice between investing more in lifelong learning and training for millions of workers or sticking to business as normal, and facing higher unemployment and skills gaps on a continuing basis.
The CBI’s report Learning for life: funding world-class adult education, based on analysis by McKinsey & Company, shows that nine in ten employees will need to reskill by 2030 at an additional cost of £13 billion a year.
New technology and the evolving landscape of our economy are transforming the skills required for many workers, whilst other positions are becoming completely redundant. As Covid-19 speeds up changes in the working world, the UK should use this momentum to push a national reskilling effort to ensure livelihoods are secure in the future and improve UK competitiveness.
The CBI study also indicates that failure to invest would affect the livelihoods of the most disadvantaged the worst. Engagement in training for low-skilled workers most at risk of automation is 40% lower than for higher-skilled workers, although half of those in the lowest socio-economic community in the United Kingdom have not received any training since leaving school. Parts of the country with historically slow job growth are expected to experience the most negative employment impacts from automation, according to the study.
“The UK’s mission to invest in training is therefore not just about the economy, but also about tackling wide inequalities, and a key part of the government’s goal to level up across the country,” CBI added.
In addition, the CBI report also highlights how shifts in the economy, driven by digitisation and automation, would shift the skills required by employers. These include:
- 21 million people in need of basic digital skills
- 16 million in need of critical thinking and information processing skills
- 15 million in need of leadership and management skills
- 14 million in need of interpersonal and advanced communication skills
- and 9 million in need of STEM training
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said, “Ensuring people can adapt to the changing world of work will be one of the most important missions this country embarks on in the next decade. The economic impact of Covid-19 makes starting now only more urgent. Jobs were already changing with nine out of ten employees needing to reskill over the next decade. The pandemic has accelerated the need to act now.”
The study’s key recommendations include:
- Evolve the Apprenticeship Levy into a flexible Skills and Training Levy to unlock business investment in high-quality accredited training.
- Introduce training tax credits for SMEs to overcome longstanding barriers of capacity and resources in smaller businesses.
- Launch Career Development Accounts to support unemployed people and individuals with the biggest retraining needs.
- Transform Job Centres into one-stop ‘Jobs and Skills Hubs’ to support workers looking to retrain.
- Extend the lifelong learning loan allowance to adults of all ages and use it to drive increased availability of bite-size, flexible, and online learning.